'Impeach Poroshenko!’ Massive anti-govt rally held in central Kiev
According to TASS news agency, up to 3,000 people took to the streets in Kiev on Saturday to protest against lack of reform and economic instability.
The people carried placards reading “We are hungry,” “Raise pensions” as well as some anti-LGBT slogans as they marched along Khreshchatyk Street to Independence square (Maidan Nezalezhnosty) in central Kiev.
Others called for the current administration to be removed and President Petro Poroshenko impeached, saying his government was unable to handle the problems facing the country.
Protesters demanded a raise in social welfare payments and an end to the unrest in eastern Ukraine. Reinforced police patrols ensured public order during the march.
Meanwhile, on Friday a Gay Pride march also took place in central Kiev. However, it ended very quickly after attacks by far right radicals. Members of the Right Sector nationalist group hurled smoke bombs and stones at the demonstrators.
Five policemen were injured, one seriously, and about 30 attackers were arrested, according to local media reports.
Previous to the event, Right Sector spokesman Artem Skoropadsky threatened the LGBT activists saying “there will be thousands of us” to counter the march, the Kyiv Post reported on Friday.
Political analyst Aleksandar Pavic told RT that there has been a rapid decline in living standards and human rights since the Maidan revolution in 2014, which resulted in the violent ouster of the former government by Kiev’s current authorities.
“After the Maidan 2014 nobody in Ukraine is enjoying a better life, except people at the top of organizations and structures that caused the Maidan revolution,” Pavic said.
Since Maidan, Ukraine has established an almost “oligarchical regime,” as the current government has excluded a “large fragment of the population from having a say in political life,” he said.
“If they look at their lives today and a year and a half ago I think they cannot but notice the big decline of living standards and even human rights.”
Even under Yanukovich’s rule Ukraine was “much closer to the European way of life,” Pavic said.
“They had peace, they had some hope of economic advancement, they had offers from both West and East,” he added.
Speculating on potential reactions from Kiev’s Western supporter-states to the recent unrest in the capital, he said there will be a public reaction, but “fundamentally nothing will change because they need these people to keep Ukraine in the Western orbit.”
“They’ve allowed the Right Sector to integrate with Ukraine’s national army. You have US army officers training units with members of Right Sector in them.”
The Maidan protests initially began as peaceful protest against then-President Viktor Yanukovich’s refusal to sign an EU association deal in late 2013. However the demonstrations slid into violence and resulted in a coup that toppled the former Ukrainian president and his government in February 2014.
The new authorities promised to undertake political and social reforms needed to meet the economic and democratic norms of the EU countries, so that Ukraine could eventually join the union.
While Kiev awaits concrete assurances from bloc members, EU leaders have been wary of welcoming its eastern neighbor.
“They have their right to have a dream, but maybe not membership in the predictable future,” European Council President Donald Tusk said at the latest Riga summit of the Eastern Partnership in May.